According to a recent MReport and a collaborative study conducted by Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP PublicPolicy Institute, a generation’s desire to “age-in-place” has created a need for policymakers to assess how well they are meeting the needs of homeowners at this life stage. Senior Research Associate at Harvard, Jennifer Molinsky, wrote “A rapidly aging population has helped spur recognition of the importance of creating livable and age-friendly neighborhoods, where people of all ages can maintain independence and high quality of life. However … most older adults in the US do not reside in livable communities, and there are significant differences between who has access to the country’s most livable communities. These differences depend on whether the resident is a homeowner or renter, whether they have a disability, and by race/ethnicity and income”. 


The report notes that “livability” is subjective. The AARP’s Livability Index measures livability by looking at housing affordability, accessibility, and options. The report stated that renters and Asian older adults are more likely to live in high livability neighborhoods. Homeowners, middle-income households, older adults with disabilities, and white older adults are more common in places of low livability. Additionally, Black and Hispanic older adults are consistent across neighborhoods of all levels of livability. There were several themes found inside the report. The first theme was the livability gap. The data revealed that there is a disconnect between what people have and what they need in communities to age in place. The second theme was housing affordability. Communities that score higher on the Livability Index tend to have higher housing costs. If older adults have high housing costs, that may create barriers to accessing the benefits livable communities can provide. The final theme found in the report was disparities in access to specific livability features. The report stated that people of color, people with disabilities, and people with lower incomes may not have access to all of the services that support aging. The report supports policy solutions to address obstacles and improve livability for people of all ages and older adults more specifically.   

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